8 Myths About Marriage You Can Safely Ignore

Myth: You’ll live happily ever after

In spite of the fantasy of “marital bliss,” associating marriage with increased personal happiness is highly illogical. Social psychologist Bella DePaulo, PhD, thinks of it this way: “Suppose you found, hypothetically, that people who become accountants are happier than those who become poets. Should all poets then set their imagination aside and set up shop as accountants—and expect to become happier as a result? It’s ridiculous.” In order to be happier as a unit, you have to first be satisfied as a single. That doesn’t mean you won’t love being married, but it won’t magically resolve any longstanding personal issues. (Related: Learning “radical acceptance” is just one of the important life lessons people tend to learn too late.)

Myth: You’ll be able to change your partner’s annoying habits

He’s not going to stop chewing with his mouth open or obsessing over baseball stats just because you two got hitched. Expecting a spouse to change “because he or she loves you” isn’t about love, it’s about manipulation—or possibly just delusion, according to Dave Willis, author of The Seven Laws of Love. It’s normal for partners to make minor behavioral shifts throughout a marriage—like learning to put dirty socks in the hamper—but expecting them to make major changes is fruitless, and it will only breed resentment that drives a wedge between you. That’s why honesty may not always be the best policy: Here are lies it’s okay to tell your partner.

Myth: You’ll automatically know each other’s thoughts

Married couples often mistakenly believe that their intense bond makes it less necessary to spell out all their thoughts and feelings. But neither of you is a mind reader. “There’s a fear that if you have to ask for something, then it doesn’t count or it’s not as meaningful,” says Jazmin Moral, LCSW-C, a Maryland-based psychotherapist who frequently works with couples. To avoid misunderstandings, don’t assume your partner knows what’s on your mind. And do say these 10 things to your partner every day for a happier marriage.

Myth: You’ll never argue

Ditch the romantic myth that every day and night of your marriage will be pure bliss, free of bickering, nagging, and fighting. You will argue—that’s certain, but it doesn’t have to doom your relationship. If you can hash out your differences fairly—without childish insults, stubbornness, and whining—it can actually strengthen your marriage, as it allows you to air your grievances and prevent them from piling up. Check out the normal fights that even happy couples have.

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